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Indo-centric view not needed to further ties with Russia: Musharraf

Written by: Staff
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Islamabad, June 7 (UNI) Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has asked Moscow not to have an Indo-centric view of his country and sought intensification of Russia-Pakistan cooperation in the area of intelligence to counter terrorism.

He said he saw a broad-based mutuality of interest for furthering relations between the two countries, which he emphasised, should be developed on bilateral basis and not through an Indo-centric approach.

''We have to translate the relationship into economic and trade relation, we need to focus on this area,'' he said in an interview with Itar-Tass, Russian news agency.

General Musharraf pointed out the need for building on good diplomatic and political relations between Pakistan and Russia through greater trade and economic cooperation.

''I think bilateral (Pakistan-Russia) relations are good, we have diplomatic and political understanding between our countries,'' he stated.

General Musharraf said understanding and excellent relations between President Vladimir Putin and himself add to the current state of bilateral relationship.

''Look at Pakistan from absolutely bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Russia,'' he urged.

In response to a question about Moscow's role in the region, he said, first of all, ''we are all fighting terrorism. We need to coordinate our efforts in the area of intelligence to counter terrorism.'' Moscow, he said, enjoys influence in Central Asia, a region with which Pakistan has historical and cultural bonds and wants to expand trade, commercial and economic ties.

''There is a mutuality of interest in this region between Russia and Pakistan," he said.

President Musharraf also referred to the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation that groups together Russia, China and Central Asian countries and added that he would be attending this month's summit in Shanghai as Pakistan looks forward to getting full SCO membership.

He also pointed to the large Muslim population in Russia, which is looking for an observer status at the Organisation of Islamic Conference and described this as yet another area of common interest between the two countries.

Identifying prospective areas of trade and economic cooperation, General Musharraf referred to Pakistan's large textile sector and said it can export products to Russia.

Secondly, he noted that Pakistan's oil and gas sector offers tremendous interest for Russian involvement.

In the field of defence, he said, Pakistan was interested in purchases from Russia and advocated that this area should also not have an Indo-centric approach to Pakistan.

Pakistan, he said, is also looking for Russian cooperation in area of communication/observation satellite and transfer of technology from Russia.

Replying to a question about US-Iran nuclear stand-off, he said the issue poses danger to the region.

''Pakistan is against nuclear proliferation but favours use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes,'' he added.

He expressed the hope that the US and Iran would resolve the issue peacefully with a spirit of accommodation, flexibility and understanding between them.

UNI XC KD VV1551

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